WWF and Green Alliance say 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel sales - 10 years earlier than planned - would cut emissions and boost trade
Ending the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles in the UK by 2030 - rather than the government's target date of 2040 - could deliver a £3bn boost to the economy by making the UK a global hub for electric vehicle investment, according to WWF analysis.
A report today by consultancy Vivid Economics on behalf of the green group claims bringing forward the fossil fuel vehicle ban by a decade could add an extra 14,000 jobs to the UK's auto industry as well as helping to take seven million diesel and petrol cars off UK roads by 2030.
Last summer the government announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 onwards, which prompted plans from a flurry of carmakers to phase out fossil fuel power more quickly.
However several countries are looking to shift away from fossil fuel cars much sooner, with the Netherlands planning to only sell emission free cars from 2030 and a similar ban coming into effect in Norway as soon as 2025.
But the UK's auto manufacturing expertise puts it in a particularly strong position to capitalise on the growing global EV market, and setting a 2030 end date for fossil fuel cars would send a strong signal to investors in electric mobility, said Gareth Redmond King, head of climate and energy at WWF-UK.
"We can't wait until 2040 - through another 22 years of air pollution and greenhouse gases - to end the sale of dirty diesel and petrol vehicles," he said. "Right now, other countries, and even vehicle manufacturers, are showing greater ambition than the UK government. But stopping the sale of these polluters by 2030 will not only clean up our air and cut emissions, but will also bolster the UK economy and give us the best chance to restore nature."
The research coincides with similar calls from environmental think tank Green Alliance, which released new research yesterday arguing an earlier phase-out date of 2030 would help the UK catch up with its climate targets and almost halve UK oil imports.
Earlier this year official data revealed transport is now the biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, rising two per cent per year since 2015.
Green Alliance insisted a change in target is necessary to get transport emissions under control, and would even serve to almost eliminate the emissions gap between current policies and the country's legally binding 2050 climate targets.
Under the government's Clean Growth Strategy, released last year, the UK is expected to take the UK around 94 per cent of the way towards emissions cuts needed under the fourth carbon budget, which runs from 2023-2027, and 90 per cent of the way towards CO2 cuts for the fifth carbon budget, which covers 2028-2032.
Green Alliance argued moving the phase-out date forward to 2030 would reduce the remaining shortfall by 60-85 per cent.
But it said simply moving the target will not on its own be enough. It also called on the government to drive the public fleet procurement of electric vehicles and roll out new tax incentives, production targets and vehicle infrastructure to support the growth of private EV fleets.
In recent weeks the government has refreshed its efforts to drive EV adoption. For example, last week Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a raft of changes to taxes for van and taxi drivers switching to electric vehicles in his Spring Statement.
"The UK was one of the first major economies to announce an end to the sale of conventional new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040, going further than almost every other European nation," a government spokesman added in response to the reports.
He added that the government will set out fresh plans to tackle air pollution in the Clean Air Strategy later this year - a plan likely to include new measures to encourage EV uptake.
Meanwhile firms are pressing ahead with their own EV adoption programmes. The findings came amid reports that delivery and logistics giant UPS's entire London fleet will soon be made up of electric vehicles, marking the "beginning of the end" of reliance on internal combustion engines.
The company said development of "radical" EV charging smart grid technology had solved the problem of needing to recharge a large number of vehicle simultaneously, thereby easing pressure on the power grid, according to the Financial Times.
As a result, UPS said was now increasing the number of its electric trucks operating in London from 52 to 170 over the next few years as running electric vehicles will soon be cheaper than operating diesels.
"We certainly believe this to be groundbreaking," said Peter Harris, director of sustainability at UPS Europe.
With many parts of the auto, logistics and delivery sectors taking serious steps towards full EV adoption, it seems a rethink of the phase-out target could make business and climate sense.
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